tv All In With Chris Hayes MSNBC December 17, 2013 12:00am-1:01am PST
"man is spirit," and that goes for women, too, obviously. and that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with us. "all in with chris hayes" starts right now. good evening from new york. i'm chris hayes. and even as the latest polling finds new jersey governor chris christie leading not only the republican presidential field but also a theoretical matchup against hillary clinton, christie finds himself right in the middle of the biggest political scandal of his career. just wait until the voters of iowa hear about this one. >> tonight i stand here as your governor, and i am so proud to be your governor. >> just last month, chris christie swept to re-election in a landslide and launched himself towards the white house, but today, his administration is in crisis.
>> new jersey governor chris christie has just announced that one of his top appointees has resigned amid a growing controversy. >> allegations now that politics played a role in a traffic study that jammed up several lanes of george washington bridge. >> believe it or not, a traffic scandal is threatening to upend the christie administration, a scandal that just a week ago the governor dismissed. >> you really are not serious with that question. >> and you can understand why christie waved the allegations off as a joke. on the face, they seem absurd, that a christie crony ordered one of the worst traffic jams in recent memory to punish a political foe. the george washington bridge between new jersey and new york city is the busiest bridge in the world, and on september 9th, the first day of school, two of the three entrance lanes to the bridge were closed and stayed that way for four days. an epic traffic jam turned the town of ft. lee, where the
bridge connects new jersey to new york, into a parking lot. there was no notice or cause given for the closures, but mark socolich, the democratic mayor of ft. lee, had an idea as to why. he believed the lanes were closed in political retribution for refusing to endorse christie for governor. the port authority said the lane closures were due to a traffic study. the new jersey legislature decided to investigate. at a november hearing, christie's top port authority appointee testified that the order to close the lanes came directly from christie's high school buddy, dave wildstein, another port authority appointee. less than two weeks later, wildstein resigned, calling the ft. lee scandal a "distraction." three days later, bridge officials testified that they were also told the lane closures were part of a traffic study and, oh, yeah, also not to tell anyone. >> i was told to not discuss
this with anyone. >> but get this, the executive director of the port authority, which runs the george washington bridge, testified there was no traffic study at all. it didn't exist. >> i'm not aware of any traffic study. i don't know why it was done. >> on friday, christie announced a second port authority appointee of his was resigning. >> under fire and under pressure, governor christie accepts the resignation of a top appointee to the port authority. >> so far, chris christie's response has been to blame democrats. >> democrats will make an issue about everything about me, so get used to the new world, everybody. we're not in kansas anymore, dorothy. >> of course, christie can put this scandal to an end today. he can give the answer to a very simple question -- why were two entrance lanes to the george washington bridge closed in september for four days? today, we don't know the answer. now, we don't know if chris christie ordered the lanes closed to get back at a mayor or knew that his close friend did, but if it comes out that he did, it is 100% disqualifying for higher office.
someone willing to shut down the world's busiest bridge as payback over a petty political slight cannot be trusted with the irs or the nsa or the nuclear codes. joining me now, wnyc and new jersey public radio reporter matt katz. he covers governor christie. all right, matt, i first heard about this story and first heard about the allegations, and i said, obviously, this is ridiculous. it is incomprehensible that anyone would be this petty or anyone would allow themselves to be implicated in something that would be just so politically destructive if it ever got out. we are now two resignations later. this is an actual thing going on, and we still don't know the answer to the whodunit or why they closed the lanes. >> that's right. seemed this story could maybe go away until last week, when there was a hearing in the state legislature and official after official said they knew of no traffic study.
and now the question is, who did know and who was involved in ordering up this traffic study, real or fake. >> wildstein, who is the member of the port authority who was the first of the two christie appointees to resign, give us a little sense of his relationship with chris christie, because the plausibility of this being a chris christie plot increases if you recognize the fact that there is actually a very tight relationship there. >> sure. they went to high school together. they were different years, but they did go to high school together. and then wildstein has been involved in politics in one way or the other for the last several decades, just like christie. he ran an anonymous, under a pseudonym, he ran a political website. christie was considered to be one of those who may have leaked him a story from time to time, and they grew up in the same town and they had the same roots. i see him, though, as sort of in the outer inner circle.
he's not necessarily one of the half dozen, dozen people that have christie's ear at all times. he's sort of at that next level, somebody he trusted enough to put in this job. he was put in this job at the port authority to sort of be his eyes and ears there. but the next step, really, and what democrats are looking for is to see if anybody in that inner circle of christie maybe sent an order to wildstein to do this traffic study. and we're hopefully going to find that out sooner than later. >> does it say something about chris christie's character or the way he's conducting himself as governor that it would be even remotely plausible that the reason he would shut down, you know, the george washington -- well, essentially shut down the majority of the george washington bridge, would be payback for a democratic mayor who didn't endorse him? >> there has always been this sense that the governor will seek revenge against those who don't follow his line and his orders. now, we've never really gotten
concrete evidence of that, other than this. we have circumstantial evidence. we have things like republican senators vote for a bill and then christie vetoes it, and then democrats try to override that veto and republicans all change their votes to fall in line with the governor. so, that makes it seem like someone got a phone call and said you'd better change your votes. >> right. >> but we've never had real concrete evidence like this potentially could provide. >> matt katz from wnyc and public radio, thank you. assemblyman gordon johnson, a democratic who includes ft. lee and distinguished fellow at the progressive think tank. assemblyman, i'll begin with you. >> yes, sir. >> do you think the governor, out of the crassest, most, you know, petty motivations caused a traffic jam in your town to punish a democratic mayor there? >> i don't know if the governor actually made a phone call and
told these individuals, mr. wildstein and mr. baroni to do this alleged traffic study and close lanes, but it sure seems to me that it was done on his behalf when the mayor did not support him when he was running for the election. >> wait, you think it is -- you have worked with this governor, you're a re-elected representative in the state assembly. >> yes. >> you think it's plausible that chris christie, or chris christie's confederates would do something like this? >> well, when this first came to light and the legislature asked questions as to what is going on here, at first, there was no response. then they came up with this traffic study because it favored ft. lee residents, which made no sense at all, and mr. baroni came to the hearing with this large graphic depicting the lanes that were being shut down, and this particular entrance was set aside for ft. lee residents
back in the 1930s, but there's no contract, nothing in writing about that, by the way, and there's no signage that says ft. lee residents only, so we kind of look at that and go, huh? so, this is -- >> every time, and this is what i found interesting, it could be cleared up very easily. >> yes. >> every time they try to explain something it looks more and more like there genuinely is something super fishy happening. >> exactly. when you ask, it's like now you're making assumptions. what is the purpose of this? >> bob -- this is my big question, i think people vastly overestimate how well the chris christie schtick plays across the country. i lived in chicago, the midwest for a long time. good luck going to midwestern voters and your opponents are running ads about you're the kind of person who closes two lanes of traffic to screw over some local mayor. >> i couldn't agree more, and that's why chris christie is not going to be the gop nominee for president. i mean, i personally think that you can take that to the bank. here's the thing.
there are a couple of things that strike me. i started covering politics in new jersey way back in the 1970s, and to give you a sense of what politics in jersey is like, many of the people that i was covering were carted off to prison. so, jersey politics is, you know, shaky. this is like small potatoes compared to those kinds of things. but here's the thing that strikes me about this scandal. if it was done, and i'm almost sure it was done -- we don't have christie's fingerprints on it, but i'm almost sure it was done to punish the mayor of ft. lee. if it was done for that reason, how is it going to punish the mayor of ft. lee? he doesn't run the bridge. the first thing he's going to say -- >> he's not sitting in traffic trying to get to his job! >> -- i have nothing to do with that. whoever ordered the closure of this bridge would be the ones who would be punished. >> but the victims in this closure that went on for four days, where you had traffic tied up in the borough of ft. lee where first responders couldn't get to their calls because of all the traffic in town, your police, your fire, ems had
difficulty getting to their calls because of all the additional traffic, they're the ones that pay, the commuters, the ones who have to go to work every day, the middle class people paid, and they paid a higher toll when they crossed the bridge when they finally got to the toll, too, by the way, but the middle class paid for this abuse, the abuse of power that was taken at the port authority. >> but that's why it's a serious issue, though. >> exactly. no one -- look, no one cares about a traffic jam -- >> the politics is crazy -- [ everyone talking at once ] but you did have first responders who were held up. there could have been a tragedy as a result of it. you did have kids who weren't able to get to school on time. >> but it's also the fact, it's the principle of the thing. >> yes. >> the abuse of power is a very serious thing. >> exactly. >> there are different ways that power can be abused. when we talked about the bill of particulars against nixon, much of it had to do with the enemies list and much of it had to do with using the power of the executive in all its majesty and glory to pursue petty vendettas against people that he thought were screwing him over, and that
was the core of what the kind of nixonian crime was. you cannot use your power or your cronies to shut down arms of the government that have to render services to people as a means of political payback. that is absolutely a disqualifying thing, if it turns out to be the case that chris christie's fingerprints -- >> that is exactly right. and the thing that christie and his associates -- i started to say cronies -- that christie and his associates are learning now is that once you become so high profile, you know, a leading candidate for the gop presidential nomination, everything is going to come out. you are going to be so closely scrutinized. you are not going to be able to get away with this kind of pettiness. >> where does this go next, assemblyman? >> well, as you know, john woes nistie, chair of the transportation committee, issued more subpoenas, so there will be more testimony taken on this to find out what exactly happened or why this happened, why this happened. what also came out in the testimony that we've heard was this atmosphere of fear and
intimidation within the port authority. the gao released a report some time this past summer that stated that there's a lack of transparency in this port authority, and this port authority has a budget bigger than 26 states in this country, they have a very large budget with a lack of transparency. so, what has come out of this is not just this abuse of power and authority that was taken but also that what's going on inside the port authority with this intimidation and fear. the person who testified, a 30-year veteran of that company. he managed the bridge -- well, one managed the bridge, one managed the entire terminal operations with two people there. both of them were afraid that if they said no to this -- and they both knew this was wrong to do. >> right, they both raised a cry, said this is crazy, you can't do this. >> right, they both knew it was wrong and they did it because they were in fear of their jobs if they did not do it. >> and a couple things. one, they lied about the traffic study. there was no -- >> they lied. they lied.
>> there was no traffic study. then, somebody thought it might be possible to keep this thing under wraps? like it wasn't going to go -- >> honestly, when i saw this at first, i thought no way. and the basic smell test, any journalist who started looking at the excuses, it was like, no, they're clearly covering something up. gordon johnson and bob herbert from demos, thank you, gentlemen. to hear republicans tell it, voter fraud is everywhere, running rampant and must be stopped. it's so out of control that iowa's secretary of state made it the centerpiece of his campaign. how that worked out for him, next.
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our next guest is calling for an investigation after newly for an investigation after newly released evidence shows that more than 900 people, dead people, appeared to have voted in recent elections in south carolina. >> what is the problem with just asking people to have a photo i.d.? >> now to the fox news voter fraud unit. >> if you watch fox news, if you read "the drudge report," then you know there is nothing more terrifying, no greater threat to american democracy than voter fraud. [ screaming ]
and no one knows this better than iowa's republican secretary of state matt schultz, who ran for office in 2011 on the signature issue of stamping out voter fraud. in the notoriously corrupt state of, again, iowa. still, he made good on his promise, paying iowa's division of criminal investigation $150,000 to do nothing but root out cases of voter fraud. and after 18 months, guess how many cases of voter fraud turned up? 1,000 cases, you say? okay, 100. how about 50? 25? nope! in a state where more than 1.5 million ballots were cast in the last presidential election, their efforts yielded fraud in, wait for it, 16 cases. 16 cases. five of those cases have resulted in guilty pleas. five others have already been dismissed, and none of the cases have gone to trial. these include such terrifying assaults on democracy like a woman who cast an absentee ballot for her daughter, which
does not seem to constitute voter fraud, since the daughter had just moved to minnesota and the mom thought it was too late for her to register to vote in her new state. this seems to be more of what you call a misunderstanding. or the three of the five guilty pleas that came from felons who just thought their voting rights had been reinstated. but the fact that voter fraud is an absolute miss has always been the case. whenever researchers have set themselves atask of finding voter fraud, they've failed, because, well, it's an astonishing, rare phenomenon, but that has not stopped the right from beating the drum on the issue, and that's because they don't really care about stopping voter fraud, they care about stopping people from voting. and in the wake of the supreme court's voting rights decision in june, gutting the core of the voting rights act, seven states, largely clustered in the south, which no longer need the federal government's permission to enact their changes to voting laws, have already announced new restrictions on voting, including voter i.d. laws. and that is why a new piece in "the huffington post" by bob kuttner calls for a new
organizing campaign modeled on the famous freedom riots of the 1960s that helped end segregation, a campaign that would mobilize organizers and citizens to make sure that everyone can vote. kuttner writes, "if the forces of reaction are demanding photo i.d. cards, let's just go door to door and make sure that every eligible voter gets one." joining me is the deputy director of the brennan center for justice and reverend dr. william barber, president of the north carolina naacp. reverend, i'll begin with you. you are in a state that's been ground zero for the attack on voting rights, passed a law that one election law scholar called the most restrictive in the post voting rights era. what is the next plan, given the fact that the courts probably will not strike anything down in time for the 2014 election? what do you do next, reverend? >> well, thank you so much, chris. you know, here in north carolina, we are, in fact, headed to court. you know, we just got a date. we'll be doing, actually fighting for an injunction this summer.
and across the board at the naacp, we've really decided here's what will be our focus. number one, we will be making our case in court to ensure that these laws are ruled unconstitutional. number two, we will be mobilizing everybody to get out and vote, particularly in 2014. number three, we'll be monitoring all of the attacks that are happening on voting rights because of the denial of section 5. and then number four, we will be making every effort to insure that section 4 is reinstated so that section 5 can be implemented. those are the four areas that we have to fight in, we have to push in. you know, this whole voter fraud issue is a fraud, but that's the only thing that the far extreme right can do. they have to create these frauds because they know that their kind of politics cannot win if everybody votes and if people are engaged at the polls. the only way they can win is to stifle the electorate. the only way they can do that is to create a fraud and then enact the fraud. and we have to fight them on every turn.
>> you know, mirda, there is an interesting case of a conversion on the issue of voter fraud that happened lately. william posener issued an opinion in a case -- and i know him personally -- he wrote an opinion in a voter i.d. case that upheld indiana's voter i.d. law largely on the rights that it would combat fraud and he recently gave an interview on this, saying i've come around on this, i don't think the fraud's there. >> right. i think what's important is that common ground be found on a couple factors. one, everybody believes that only eligible people should vote. >> right. yeah, i think we're all -- >> we're all on that page. and in the course of dealing with the misinformation that people may have that may cause folks to register to vote when they're not eligible, we need to have a response that is measured and appropriate we cannot have laws or policies that are too broad, too restrictive that make it harder for eligible americans to vote. and one of the things we see is when there are allegations of
voter fraud, we have a reaction disproportionate to what the science and the data suggests is actually the problem, and they don't actually target the problem. >> right. >> of voter fraud. instead, they enact these laws and these barriers that are going to make it harder for eligible americans to participate in our democracy. >> in fact, one of the things we've seen reliably in studies of voter fraud is that to the extent it actually exists, reverend, to the places where we have seen some indications -- and again, these are very, very small numbers of cases -- in places, it's largely absentee voting, and you don't see, for some reason, absentee voting on the chopping block in states like your own. >> that's right. if i understand your question, i heard a little noise in the background, but you're exactly right. what we see happening -- for instance, in our state, the speaker of the house, tom tillis, who wants to be a senator, went out of his way, led his extremists to claim there was voter fraud, then had to admit on msnbc that, in fact, there was no voter fraud. but they created the fear.
and once they created the fear, they used that fear to produce a monster voter suppression law, not just voter i.d. they ended same-day registration, cut back early voting, cut back sunday voting, denied 16 and 17-year-olds from preregistering. what they do is they use this fraud to create fear, and then they use that fear to do an extreme reduction in voting opportunity. because at the end of the day, injustice always has to have a lie to support it to create the fear to undergird it, and then they use that to destroy the opportunity for people to vote because they know, if people vote, this narrow-minded, extremist agenda cannot pass a public test at the polls. >> and it's particularly the case, myrna, that it is very hard to come up with justification for a whole new raft of restrictions on voting in the absence of some problem you're trying to solve. i mean, no one just -- you know, there's limited legislative bandwidth, limited time -- >> there's limited resources. >> there's limited resources.
there's a study out of the brennan center about how much it will cost the state of missouri to implement their voter i.d. law. it's not chump change, something in the order of $6 million in the first year. >> that's what's important to remember, is that even in states that provide free i.d., or supposedly free i.d., it's never really free. >> right. >> first, it costs the states a great deal of money to provide the public education that is needed. then there is also additional efforts that have to come with creating this brand new i.d. out of scratch that didn't exist and all the staffing, then all the training and all the training of the poll workers and the election officials. and then for people, they need the underlying documents. >> right. >> which still cost money. they need to take the day off of work to go to the dmv. they need to get themselves there. many of the dmvs aren't close by or are not operating during hours that people are off. and so, the thing that i think as americans we need to ask ourselves, what kind of barriers are we going to put in front of the ballot box? and on the basis of what evidence? >> right. >> what kind of justification are we going to demand before doing such barriers? >> reverend, given the fact that
you're going to have a voter i.d. law almost certainly in that state, you know, barring some injunction by a court stlrks a grassroots way to get people the identification they need to make sure they will have access to the polls? >> well, in north carolina, it doesn't even enact until 2016, so whether we have an injunction or not, the voter i.d. part doesn't go into play until 2016. we're trying to get people out to the polls in 2014, which can shift tools in our legislature. what we're trying to do is block the vote of the early registration to end same-day registration and sunday voting, those kinds of things. and what's happened in our state, chris, is that these people want to hold back the vote, because what they've done in public policies is the one mistake you don't ever want to make, and that made everybody mad, they've cut education. teachers are mad, parents are mad. they've cut medicaid, sick people are mad. they've cut unemployment, unemployed people are mad. the republicans who say they never raise taxes raised taxes on 85% of north carolinians, now
the taxpayers are mad. even republicans are mad. again, i go back to my point, we must understand that they know that their agenda cannot meet the test of a full voting america, and that's why they're working so hard. what i say to folk, in 2014, it ought to be mass mobilization and a referendum on this extremism in every state, and particularly throughout the south. we ought to have freedom summer at the polls like never before. >> myrna perez and reverend dr. william barber from the north carolina naacp. thank you both. >> thank you. very important update on the latest developments in the saga of black santa, next. [ male announcer ] this is jim,
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a delightful twist of unintended consequences from this year's war on christmas hysteria. black santa has officially become the mascot of this holiday season. of course, it all-starred with this aisha harris piece for slate.com, but the problems inherent in the santa who is default white. that column went to one of the more baffling moments in cable television, courtesy of fox news anchor megyn kelly. >> for all you kids watching at home, santa just is white, but this person is just arguing that maybe we should also have a black santa. but you know, santa is what he is, and just so you know, we're debating this because someone wrote about it, kids. okay, wanted to get that straight. >> and that, quite naturally, led to an absolute eruption of outrage, satire and ridicule. >> santa is just white. and who are you actually talking
to? children who are sophisticated enough to be watching a newschannel at 10:00 at night, yet innocent enough to still believe santa claus is real, yet racist enough to be freaked out that he isn't white! >> i can't believe that you and mrs. claus are black. >> oh, she's not black. >> she's not? >> no, no, no, no, no, no. you think a black woman would tolerate living out in the middle of the snowy wilderness? no, if mrs. claus is black, santa would be living in atlanta near her ma'am were. >> i think you would find a black santa claus in every black home because santa claus is black in black homes. >> right. >> and santa claus is white in white homes. santa claus is mexican in mexican homes. >> just wait until fox viewers find out santa's actually a black man pretending to be a black woman. >> ho, ho, ho! look how you jumped on that.
go see "a medeia christmas." >> besides, black people have their own holiday, it's martin luther king day. by the way, for kids watching at 11:30 at night, martin luther king is black and he is real. >> all right, all of that led megyn kelly, to her credit, to return to the issue with a segment that was sort of ambiguously perched somewhere between apology and double down. >> the knee-jerk instinct by so many to race-bait and to assume the worst of people, especially people employed by the very powerful fox news channel. contrary to what my critics have posited, neither my statement, nor harris's, was motivated by racial fear or loathing. we continually see st. nick as a white man in modern-day america. should that change? well, that debate got lost. by the way, i also did say jesus was white. as i've learned in the past two days, that is far from settled. >> yes, yes, very, very far from settled. on the silly, serious scale,
this story has tended to tilt to the silly side, but here's whereas not so silly about turning santa's race into a debate. >> cleveland high freshman christopher loved christmas, but that all changed last thursday when he wore this santa hat and beard to school. his parents say a teacher told christopher, who's black, he couldn't be santa because santa is white. >> that's really a thing that really happened in an albuquerque suburb last week, the sort of story that strikes a nerve, and i can tell you why. i have a 2-year-old now, so i know that as you watch your kid walk through the world, it's like watching a turtle without a shell. they're perceiving everything around them, even stuff you don't think they're noticing. they're taking it all in, but they don't have the facilities yet to process it all. so, they're often getting messages that you as their parent don't control, many of which are harmful or hurtful, and for millions of nonwhite kids, the message that santa is white might very well be one of those messages. in fact, one of the most
insidious aspects of the racial regime in which we labor is that whiteness is the default, whiteness is invisible, whiteness does not exist as a thing, as something to be noticed. things just are white, people just are white, santa just is white. but here's the thing, until a few years ago, the president of the united states was white. he just was. that was a verifiable fact. but that changed. so, maybe santa could change, too? and speaking of changing santa, here's what santa should not be. this is santacon. if you're not familiar, it's basically a costumed pub crawl that started in san francisco in 1994 and since gone global. it acts as an opportunity for the same inebriated louts who crowd into the city to get publicly drunk on st. paddy's day to trade in their green for red and white and get publicly drunk in december. this year's santacon, a number of drunken santas could be seen brawling on the sidewalks near union square here in new york city. so, while we're on the subject of whiteness as default, let me just hazard a guess that if the people streaming into the city
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big news today in the world of spying. you know, when a federal judge appointed by george w. bush calls what the nsa has been doing to virtually every citizen unconstitutional, it's really bad. that story's coming up. first, i want to share the three awesomest things on the internet today. we begin in a garage in florida, where an orlando filmmaker is selling his car. this is the craigslist ad for luke akers' 1996 nissan maxima. the pictures aren't much to look at, but it's akers' descriptions of the car that are a sight to behold. this pavement yacht rides as smooth as a pegasus back side. this has indeed been to war and back. this maxima no longer needs the odometer to tell it how far it has gone and refuses to let silly numbers determine its life! and he produced the following kick-ass ad for a 17-year-old beater.
>> the best iconic monuments always seem to be those that stand the test of time. the structures that weathered the years, those that stood through wars and depression and today still stand impressive. 2013 brings out a true embodiment of iconic motoring. the luxurious maxima gle from nissan. 17 years in monumental perfection. this time-tested maxima delivers an unprecedented sport sedan, fully loaded with an engine, wheels, tires and an automatic transmission. >> it's an ad worth more than the car it is attempting to sell. to our knowledge, as with showtime, the warrior landship yacht is still available. second awesomest things we saw on gizmodo. click 3 always likes to give a shout out to those holiday heroes who like to take their christmas decorations to the next level. you've seen the houses with
100,000 lights on them. well, this year, they've all been outdone by this guy from rated rr, who's built himself a christmas tree in the desert made entirely of detonation cord. isn't that something, folks? what do you say we light this candle? ♪ >> okay, that might have seemed like a lot of work for not much payoff until you play the video back in super slow-mo. ♪ >> according to the guys who built this crazy thing, the detonation cord is flexible plastic tubing filled with material that explodes at 4 miles per second. everyone loves explosions fo the holidays, but please, the third awesomest thing on the inrnet comes from deadspin, where they have posted an anonymous tipster provided them
with the following voice mail there is very little context for the sound we're about to hear. all we know is this woman, believed to be some kind of recruiter, didn't properly hung up the phone and she has an adorable conversation with her little care bear. >> this is a message for [ bleep ]. this is [ bleep ]. please give a call back. you can reach me at [ bleep ]. again, [ bleep ]. i look forward to speaking with you. [ clicking ] oh, cutie that you are! because you are so precious. come here! come here, my little monkey. my little bear. oh, will you stop it? you're just crazy. i love my little beary-kins. you can stay here. you're in demand, my little boo-boo. ♪ you're in demand my little beary babe, you're in demand my little baer ♪ ♪ you're so sweet, my little care bear ♪
judge richard leon ruled that the national security agency's systemic collection of americans' phone records reflects a use of "almost orwelian technology" to violate the constitution. he was appointed by george w. bush and used strong language to condemn a program that he said would leave james madison "aghast." "i cannot imagine a more indiscriminate and arbitrary invasion than this systemic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of yourying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval. surely, such a program infringes on that degree of privacy the founders enshrined in the fourth mend mend." the decision has been stayed pending appeal, so it stays for now, but it marks a major turning point in the nsa drama. we spent the last six months coming to terms with the fact that in the era of keith alexander, the goal has been to "collect it all," as one senior official put it.
the nsa isn't just collecting information about our phone calls in bulk, it's looking at our e-mails, it has access to nearly everything we do on the internet, there's even spying inside of online multiplayer video games. indeed, there have been so many headlines xloezing the complex web of nsa monitoring, we've become desensitized to each new revelation. but now, now the conversation is shifting from what the nsa has been doing to what can be done to fix it, how our legal and political systems can rein in what looks to the world like an out-of-control agency. the fight for the future of the nsa kicked into high gear with today's landmark ruling. and if you don't think the nsa knows it's in for the fight of its life, you should watch the story about the agency that aired last night on "60 minutes" in which the nsa sought to get its message out and "60 minutes" more than obliged. >> we need to help the american people understand what we're doing and why we're doing it. the fact is, we're not collecting everybody's e-mail, we're not collecting everybody's phone things, we're not
listening to that. >> there might be a little confusion among americans who read in the newspaper that the nsa has vacuumed up the records of the telephone calls of every man, woman and child in the united states for a period of years. that sounds like spying on americans. >> right, and that's wrong. that's absolutely wrong. there was nobody willfully or knowingly trying to break the law. the probability that a terrorist attack will occur is going up, and this is precisely the time that we should not step back from the tools that we've given our analysts to detect these types of attacks. >> all right, when we come back, we're going to talk about that "60 minutes" piece which has come in for a ton of criticism, as well as the fact that the nsa finds itself now besieged from all sides. [ mom ] with my little girl, every food is finger food.
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erly in the show, we asked all right, that "60 minutes," i watched people's reaction in realtime to the "60 minutes" episode, which i did not watch when it aired. i watched it today. it was worse than i could have imagined in how one-sided it was, and it was essentially a 30-minute video press release for the nsa. >> i thought the same thing. i thought it was awful. it was so credulous and essentially allowed the nsa to put out a series of misrepresentations about its own
activities and then to slander edward snowden as well without allowing him any response. i thought it was pretty bad. >> there was a point at which one of the people in the nsa talks about edward snowden, alleges he stole some answer key for a test in the nsa, and i just had a thought. when i was 22, 23, first writing as a freelance writer, somebody makes a novel accusation about someone like that, you have to go get a response. you just can't just print that. i mean, and this is like, you know, little city council feuds in chicago at 22 or 23. i couldn't believe they just went to air and there was nothing. >> well, and they let all the nsa officials spout all of these misrepresentations about the programs, including statements that were clearly inconsistent with information already in the public record. >> to me, what it -- to me, a lot of what it signals is the nsa has now decided they need to go on a pr offensive, because they recognize that they are, that things are -- change is coming, right? do you feel that on capitol
hill, that we're turning a corner where there's going to be -- there's got to be some legislative response to this. >> there will be legislative response. whether it's going to be meaningful is hard to say. you've got to get it through committee, and speaker boehner did a big turn-around in getting a budget bill passed and telling some of the crazy right-wingers, back off, i'm the speaker but that doesn't mean he's going to necessarily stand up on nsa issues, where most of the people that are concerned are more liberal. and i think, you know, i like mike rogers a lot and i like -- >> they're people on the intelligence committee. >> ranking member and the chairman. i don't think they or boehner will allow a vote to come up in the house. the conyers bill got a lot of votes, but i think they made sure it couldn't pass, and the senate never touched it. relief will probably come from the judiciary, as often happens in this nation, and that's probably why republicans were so angry about the nuclear option, because it's judges that make
the difference in people's rights. that's what happened in the '60s, that's what's happened throughout our history, and so, now the judicial branch will be the one that saves us. >> well, and that perfectly tees up today's judicial decision by a federal judge, who is not just a george w. bush appointee, a longtime republican operative, essentially, worked on republican committee staff on the hill, was doing stuff on sort of quashing iran contra investigation. i mean, he was a very controversial pick when he was picked, was seen by democrats as, you know, as a stalwart right-winger, and the decision today is pretty remarkable. >> it is, it is, but you know, republicans care about the fourth amendment, too, right? there are 130 co-sponsors of the usa freedom act, which is a bill that reform a lot of these problems. >> including representative sensenbrenner, co-author on the patriot act. >> that's right, he wrote the provision that the government is relying on to conduct this kind of surveillance, but today's decision, i think it's true, at the end of the day, we have to rely on judges, and today's
decision i think was a great thing. i hope it's the first of many. there are a number of other cases pending, including one that the aclu brought here in new york, challenges to the same program or to other nsa programs. and it's in some ways the most remarkable outcome of the snowden disclosures, is that we can finally have these cases go forward in court. you can -- >> how did it -- >> -- on the merits. >> how did the senate's disclosures change what could and could not be litigated? >> before the snowden disclosures, we were in court arguing that these programs or laws were unconstitutional, and the government's response was always you don't have standing because you can't show that your plaintiffs were monitored, or you can't litigate this case because litigation would require the disclosure of state secrets. so, there are all of these threshold doctrines, all of these hurdles that litigants have to overcome in order to even argue about the merits, and we couldn't get to that point, but now we can. >> so, there's a legislative aspect to this. there's senator ron wyden has been pushing for reform, legislative reform on the senate
side, there's some stuff coming up in the house. >> i have a bill in the house, too. >> you have a bill in the house as well. there's also judicial, there's also executive branch. the president has appointed this panel, right, this outside panel that he's asked for recommendations. the panel said to urge nsa curbs. we've seen some reporting on it. are you expecting anything out of that panel? are you expecting anything meaningful initiated by the white house itself in response? >> i think the white house will. i think barack obama knows politically he needs to. probably he knows as a lawyer and human being that something needs to be done. on the other hand, he gets access to all that material, and sometimes the presidency, just like the chairman and ranking members of the committees, kind of get taken over by the establishment. maybe it's because they hear the data and the information and they think we've got to do this for the country, and maybe they've been snowed, snowdened. i don't know which, but it happens. and i don't know, you know, i just -- committee, it could go to their committee or my committee judiciary, and i don't think chairman goodelot will give a hearing anyway, so we have a problem getting a hearing. >> i think what we saw today is the judicial decision, now that
the standing has been overcome, we'll see a lot more decisions like this. congressman steve cohen and jameer jaffar, thank you. "the rachel maddow show" starts now. >> did that piece say "game of phones"? well done. thank you at home for joining us this hour. the numbers are in. it is official now. the congressional election last week in massachusetts appears to have been the lowest turnout congressional election in massachusetts history. only 13% of people turned out. 13% of voters in that district turned out to choose a replacement for ed markey, when he got kicked upstairs to the u.s. senate in a special election earlier this year. so, yes, massachusetts now has a new member of congress, one of the very few women that massachusetts has ever elected to federal office, and that is very exciting, except that nobody actually bothered to show up when it came time to decide whether or t